Legacies of South Carolina’s African American Educational Institutions

An early view of the Charleston Colored Industrial School, from the collections of the South Carolina Historical Society.

From historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) such as South Carolina State University to the hundreds of Rosenwald Schools constructed across the state in the early twentieth century, African American educational institutions and educators have helped shape South Carolina in significant ways. We have made available a selection of Carologue articles covering various aspects of the history of African American education in South Carolina:

Available through our partners at JSTOR, these articles from the South Carolina Historical Magazine also deal with topics related to historically African American educational institutions:

Additionally, the SCHS holds within its collections a number of materials related to African American education in South Carolina. Here is a sampling:

  • James Simons school papers (1877–1919): These chiefly consist of the correspondence of Simons during his tenure as a trustee (and president of the trustees) for the Charleston High School, as a public school commissioner, as chairman of the board of public school commissioners, and as supervising commissioner of the Memminger School. Topics include the Industrial School for Colored Orphans (later the Charleston Colored Industrial School) and other city schools, textbooks and curriculum, scholarships, financial matters, and teachers.
  • Edwin A. Harleston papers (1903–1931): In addition to correspondence on subjects such as the Avery Normal Institute, these include letters from W.E.B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson and Walter White of the NAACP, Frank Chisholm of the Tuskegee Institute, and J.B. Randolph of Claflin College.
  • Minutes of the South Carolina Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1875, 1876, 1883, 1884): Appendices feature extensive statistical data for each district, including donations collected for schools and the number of books in school libraries.
  • Private Negro Colleges and Schools of South Carolina: A Survey Report (1947): Institutions surveyed include Allen University, the Avery Normal Institute, Benedict College, Bettis Academy and Junior College, Claflin College, Friendship Junior College, Morris College, and Voorhees Normal and Industrial School.

For more on the history of Rosenwald Schools across the state, visit the South Caroliniana Library’s Rosenwald Schools of South Carolina Oral History Exhibit. This features as its center the forty-three oral history interviews of the Tom Crosby Oral History Collection, which describe the educational experiences of African Americans in South Carolina from the 1910s to the 1970s.

More information on desegregation in South Carolina can be found in the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative exhibit Somebody Had To Do It: First Children in School Desegregation.